Whisky Review: BenRiach 21 Years Old
Category: Speyside single malt Scotch whisky
Origin: BenRiach Distillery
Bottling: Brown-Forman, Official
Cost: £125 buy from Master of Malt
What they say:
BenRiach Distillery announces the release of a twenty-one year old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, unconventionally matured in a combination of four types of cask: bourbon barrels, virgin oak, Pedro Ximenez and red wine casks.
These four cask types are expertly blended together by the BenRiach Master Blender, Rachel Barrie, to create a multi-faceted and superbly balanced malt. Each cask amplifies unique notes of bourbon vanilla, virgin oak spice, PX sweetness and vinous red fruits developing from BenRiach’s signature sweet barley and fruit-laden style. This unpeated single malt is one of two BenRiach expressions to be released at 21 years old, and the other, its richly peated partner, will appear early 2018.
The quality of these whiskies has already been recognised at the 2017 International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) where both 21 year old expressions won Silver Outstanding medals.
At BenRiach we have developed a reputation for innovative maturation using an eclectic mix of cask types. BenRiach 21 year old is the next step on this innovative journey, bringing together four eclectic casks in one single malt: bourbon barrels at its core enriched by virgin American oak, Pedro Ximenez and red wine casks.
This new unpeated expression is likely to both surprise and delight, as it opens with fresh summer fruit compote, soft vanilla and vibrant candied peel, developing into tangy red fruits, barley sugar and the warmth of chocolate ginger. I look forward to sharing this enigmatic malt with all intrigued to discover more.
BenRiach Distillery Master Blender, Rachel Barrie
Bright autumn gold.
Ripe summer fruit compote with contrasting candied peel and a warming stem ginger background.
Soft vanilla and cinnamon give way to tangy red fruits and citrus peel. Barley sugars and honeyed malt build into the long, sweet and satisfying finish.
What I say:
Sampled during our visit to BenRiach Distillery and tour with distillery manager Stewart Buchanan. We spent a while in the kiln while Stewart explained the basic nature of much of BenRiach’s traditional (and mostly original) equipment, we sampled both of the new 21 Year Old expressions constructed by Rachel Barrie including both this 4 cask matured and the soon to be released BenRiach 21 Year Old Peated expression. Many thanks to BenRiach Distillery and Spey Progressive Communications for the sample.
Orange Amber gold (11/20), oily slow medium-fine tears taper to fine legs
Sweet and fruity, summer berries, strawberry, raspberry and hints of cherry, red berry cheesecake with a ginger nut biscuit base, soft vanilla, ginger and hint of cinnamon-dusting on sweet doughy pastries, soft biscuit or shortbread cereals of malted barley, light, fruity and fragrant
Full-bodied, unctuous and oily, coats the palate with a syrupy sweetness of mixed berry jam, raspberry coulis, fresh strawberry and that sharp acidity of Morello (sour) cherry, creamy vanilla and fresh root ginger predominate the spices with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, barley sugar sweeties and a touch of oak wood and tea-like tannins.
Long, spiced sweetness, back to that red berry and ginger nut biscuit cheesecake again from the nose.
A deliciously decadent dram full of dessert-like flavours enhanced with a sharpness from some of the fruit and gingery spice
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